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Inside the Polls: Why is Penn State higher then Utah

While Utah fans are excited to go to a BCS game for the second time since 2004, the human polls give the Utes no love. The computers have Utah 5th, but the Harris Poll has Utah 8th and the Coaches Poll 7th.

The culprits here are Penn State, Texas Tech and USC. First off Texas Tech is ahead of Utah by a mere five points, but Texas Tech just came off of a 65-21 loss to Oklahoma who was ranked in the top 5, and on the Utah side they doubled up number 14 BYU 48-24.

A team gets beat by 44 points in the teams first true test on the season. Yes, I know Tech beat Texas at home, but being at home Texas Tech is going to be favored. This road game at Oklahoma was their first true road test and was waxed and voters still think they are better then Utah. Does not make sense, because while Utah is most likely not going to make the BCS title game, stranger things have happened plus Utah wants to finish as high as they can in the polls to help recruiting and get new fans.

Then we have Penn State who is ranked sixth in both human polls ahead of Utah, and this makes even less sense then Texas Tech. Below is the results between Utah and Penn State with the final, score, current record, and the ranking at the time.

Utah Penn State
@ Michigan 25-23 Current Record 3-9 Coastal Carolina 66-10 Current Record 6-6
UNLV 42-21 Current Record 5-7 Oregon State 45-14 Current Record 8-3
@ Utah State 58-10 Current Record 3-8 @ Syracuse 55-13Current Record 3-8
Weber State 37-21 Current Record 9-3 Temple 45-3 Current Record 4-7
Oregon State 31-28 Current Record 8-3 No. 22 Illinois 38-24 Current Record 5-7
@ Wyoming 40-7 Current Record 4-8 @ Purdue 20-6 Current Record 4-8
Colorado State 49-16 Current Record 6-6 @ Wisconsin 48-7 Current Record 7-5
@ New Mexico 13-10 Current Record 4-8 Michigan 46-17 Current Record 3-9
No. 12 TCU 13-10 Current Record 10-2 @ No. 9 Ohio State 13-6 Current Record 10-2
@ San Diego State 63-14 Current Record 2-10 @ Iowa 24-23 Current Record 8-4
@ Air Force 30-23Current Record 8-4 Indiana 34-7Current Record 3-9
No. 14 BYU W 48-24 Current Record 10-2 No. 15 Michigan State 49-18Current Record 9-3

As you can see each school played a I-AA team and the ranked opponents are pretty similar, well Illinois was over rated at the time but Michigan State is similar to BYU, TCU is similar to Ohio State, and Air Force is similar to Wisconsin. The overall record of opponents is Utah 72-70 and Penn State opponents record is 70-71. Not much of a difference except that Penn State loss to an unranked Iowa, if the loss was to Ohio State who is ranked in the top 15 then, but to an unranked team yes it was a road g ame but it was a loss. They are very close in their opponents record and the Big 10 might be slightly better in overall depth the top four teams in each league favor the Mountain West, and with all things so equal an unbeaten team should be ahead of a one loss team.

The national media is in love with the tradition of Penn State and the Big 10 because they are an automatic qualifier conference for a BCS and gives the benefit of the doubt to those schools. The reality is that both teams are good but an undefeated team should trump a one loss team, because all the Big 10 honks do not want to admit it they are closer to the level of play of the Mountain West then they are to the SEC or Big XII.

My next post will go over the same scenario as USC, as to why they are ranked higher.

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2 Responses

  1. Just wondering if it occurred to you to compare the games Penn State and Utah have played against common opponents?
    -Utah beat Michigan by 2. Penn State beat Michigan by 29.
    -Utah beat Oregon State by 3. Penn State beat Oregon State by 31.
    You’re right that many voters may be caught up in Penn State’s and the Big Ten’s tradition, but if we can give at least some of the voters credit for paying attention, isn’t it likely that they’ve noticed those scores, and (logically) decided to rank Penn State higher than Utah because they (logically) think Penn State is probably a better team? I know it’s fun to play the no-respect card, and Utah is a very good program… but come on.

  2. Ryan

    I just feel Utah should be ahead because they have not lost, and that Penn State lost recently. If the loss was in week 5 then I would be fine with Penn State being ahead. But, the late loss and that their schedule is close so I would give the edge to an undefeated team.

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